Author: E.D. Chiotis. DOI: 10.32028/9781789693775-15.ISBN 9781789693775-15. |
The peninsula of Piraeus is composed of the Mounichia Hill and the rocky Akti, connected through the NE-SW trending isthmus between the Kantharos and Zea harbors. The great geomorphological advantage of the peninsula is its natural and safe harbors – Kantharos with the innermost Kophos Port, Zea and Mounichia – at a reasonable distance of eight kilometers from Athens.
It became an island, during the Neolithic Era due to the sea level rise and was connected again with the land already by the fifth century BC. As a result, it stood at the estuary of the Kifissos River, west of the river delta, and was surrounded by swamps to the north and east. From the 5th century BC, Piraeus peninsula was fortified with the Urban Walls and the Long Walls connecting Piraeus and Athens. The latter, in addition to their strategic role, ensured communication with Athens, as a gateway to traffic as well as infrastructure for the construction of aqueducts carrying water from Athens on two occasions. Piraeus in the northwest is surrounded by the limestone Mountains of Aegaleo that nonetheless allow easy access to the west and could supply water in antiquity.
Key points in the history of Piraeus are the destruction of the Piraeus Walls in 404 BC by the Spartans an event that marked the decline of the Athenian hegemony, the occupation by the Macedonian garrison in 332 BC until 229 BC, the Sullan destruction in 86 BC and the Herulian raid in 267 AD. A renaissance of Piraeus after the Sullan sack is associated with Hadrian and the Antonine dynasty and is linked with the renewed prosperity of Athens as one of the capital cities of the Hellenic world.
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